It's a Love Story: When Rhyme Met T.K.
It was late August when Rhyme first met T. K. They were just kids. Five years old.
School was starting in a few days. Ellie had come over to Rhyme's for a playdate. The girls went outside to chalk the sidewalk. They walked a block or two, and started coloring.
Down the street, Rhyme saw a big truck. A moving truck. All sorts of things sat on the front yard—furniture and suitcases and golf clubs. Ellie was drawing a sun, and Rhyme was making clouds.
A shadow fell over them. It was a girl. A new girl in town. She had bright eyes, and plenty of attitude.
"I'm Birdie," she said. Ellie told her she liked her name. “That’s my brother, T. K.,” the new girl said, pointing to a boy their age on the lawn. He locked eyes with Rhyme. Rhyme squinted, trying to get a better look at him. T. K. stared straight at her and started waving, fast, his arm like a windshield wiper. Rhyme crinkled her nose and laughed to herself, waving back.
Later that week, she saw him again, dribbling a basketball on the corner. She watched as he took the same shot over and over again. Each time he would make small adjustments to his form, his angle, his jump. He didn't stop until everything was perfect. He seemed totally oblivious to Rhyme's presence. Focused only on making the basket.
She sat on the stoop, just watching, until he was finally satisfied with his shot. Seeing her, T. K. came over and took a seat. She offered him a chocolate-covered pretzel from her lunchbox, and he took it. Rhyme hid her smile when she saw he was smearing chocolate all over his face. She offered another. They sat like that for a while, comfortably silent, side by side.
Then, it started to drizzle, and T. K. said he better be going. From that day on, a day rarely passed that they didn't see each other. Sometimes it was snacks on the front stoop, or bike rides around the neighborhood, maybe a shake at Junior's. They became a pair. Rhyme and T. K. T.K. and Rhyme. After a few weeks she asked what "T. K." stood for. His initials. Tommy Kaye. But she never knew him as anything other than T. K.
Now, with high school starting, Rhyme kept thinking back to that day. All summer, T. K. had been in Los Angeles, studying under Flash's dad. They'd only talked a few times. She missed him. She missed the little boy who waved too fast. She missed the older boy, who'd kissed her after the Spring Fling.
Rhyme and T. K. T. K. and Rhyme.